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Ivan Vasiliev, 25, is a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater and the Mikhailovsky Ballet in St Petersburg. He made his debut as a soloist at the Bolshoi aged 17. His many awards include the grand prix at the International Dance Open Festival (2011). Last month, he danced at the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

What was your childhood or earliest ambition?

When I was four years old, I saw my brother taking dance classes. I took my shoes off and went to dance with him and I’ve never stopped dancing since.

Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

Ballet school. When I was four years old my first education experience was learning folk dancing. I went to professional ballet school when I was seven and a half – the Dnepropetrovsk Ballet School in Ukraine. Then I moved to Minsk to continue my education at the ballet school there. When I was 17, I was invited to the Bolshoi. I became the youngest principal in the company.

Who was or still is your mentor?

I am my own mentor.

How physically fit are you?

Pretty fit!

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

Talent in the first place but, in second place, comes the willingness to work hard. You can’t achieve anything with talent on its own.

Have you ever taken an IQ test?

No, never.

How politically committed are you?

To be honest, I’m not really interested in politics but I have my own thoughts about what’s going on in the world.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

I guess my ultimate carbon footprint will be the bones in my grave.

Do you have more than one home?

No. Home is the one place where you really wish to return to.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

I’d like a remote control that could stop time so I could pause and move forward when I’m ready.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

My every day is extravagant!

In what place are you happiest?

Happiness doesn’t depend on a particular place. I can be happy anywhere, from the coldest places to the hottest.

What ambitions do you still have?

My best ambition is to work for as long as I’m able to do it. Give me the jobs and I’ll take care of all the rest.

What drives you on?

Nothing drives me – I drive myself.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

That I’m healthy and able to do my job.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

That I’m already 25!

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?

That I was still young and handsome.

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

I would find a different profession and become a star in that field instead. Bobsleigh, perhaps.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

I don’t believe in it. Everyone should live as long as possible. I believe in life.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

I’ve never been there, so I don’t know.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

10. Always 10.

‘Kings of the Dance’, starring Ivan Vasiliev, is at the London Coliseum, March 19-22; English National Opera

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